BEEVILLE – What would make a Ph.D. candidate decide one day to pickup and leave from her home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and drive to Seattle?
For 57-year-old Addie Ralston, the journey is all about love.
She felt compelled to leave her home on May 9, stopping along the way in West Virginia, Kentucky and Arkansas before arriving in Beeville – the birthplace of her fiance, Michael.
“When I left Allentown, I had no desire to see anything else along the way,” she said. “I made a beeline for Beeville.”
“When you love somebody, your soulmate, you make it your mission to know everything about them,” Ralston said.
After making the 1,727-mile drive and spending the night at the Hampton Inn in Beeville, Ralston said she headed to Hogue’s Jewelry on Washington Street. There, she purchased a Beeville Pandora charm and a blocker ring to prevent her from losing Michael’s U.S. Naval Academy ring. He had given Ralston the ring upon his 1983 graduation.
She met Michael through a mutual friend when Ralston was studying at Immaculata College. But life would take them different directions as they both married someone else. Ralston graduated with a history degree, and Michael continued with his military career, where he was part of the U.S. Naval Construction Force – better known as the Seabees, she said. He retired as a captain.
“He has integrity, honor, dignity; that’s what Texas is all about,” Ralston said.
Then, 35 years later, the two – both of whom are no longer married – reconnected via Facebook.
“And that was it. Here we are two years later,” she said.
Following lunch at the Beeville Diner, Ralston visited the Glenwood Cemetery. Michael’s twin brother is buried there, she said. The brothers were born in Beeville when the family lived at Chase Field. Like Michael, their father was a U.S. Navy veteran.
“How are you going to get to know a person if you don’t know where they were born?” Ralston asked. “My journey is about ... the soil that’s in Beeville is the soil that’s in his soul.”
As much as Ralston’s trip is about love, it also is about remaining true to her word.
“It’s about keeping a promise to his mother that I would be good to her son,” she said. “She knew that I would never forget Michael. He would always be a part of my life, part of my soul.
“I made a promise that I would never forget him. I made a promise that he would always be part of my life, part of my soul. That’s why I’m here.”
Besides, trekking across the country with an SUV beats being stuck at home during Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 quarantine.
“I decided instead of enduring the COVID in red phase, if I’m going to shelter in place, I’m going to shelter in place in my car,” Ralston said. “I want to see what’s out there, not go stir crazy in my house.”